A Symmetry

“If every book of poetry, from now until the end—or the terminal twisting—of time, were to offer itself as a field guide to the apocalypse by attrition in which we are living, in which we are forcing each other to live, then I would nominate Ari Banias’s A SYMMETRY to be among the books that we consult first. In its clear and capacious inventory of the inter- and codependence of what feels like the fullness and failing of all things, Banias’s poetry is transcribing a kind of vigilance that is mournful yet magnetizing, altruistic yet self-adhesive, and always enflowered by the daily uprising of new manifestations of love.”

—Brandon Shimoda, author of THE GRAVE ON THE WALL

Practice

I try to hold in my mind a chemical fire in Texas a chemical explosion in Yancheng a passage by rubber boat from Kusadasi to Vathy without even the before or the after as though discreet as I can hold the mad king going madder the spotless meeting room a team of lawyers the hemorrhoids of a team of lawyers the soothing creams each purchased individually or the parched fields I have in my view a pink bucket on its side in the garden all winter a barely contained moment of ecstasy on a golf course stomping hard with my boots on spongy treated earth Julie fucking Andrews / I shout into the high winds toward a brown scribble of unmanicured woods gales from the west southwest the thousands of second homes standing empty swamps from which the spotted salamanders emerge after thaw after how many gallons of fuel in enormous steel tanks arrive at their destination intact what can it possibly mean to remain intact to oppose smug minimalism what can the 22,000 metric tons of trash entering the ocean today in the bloodstream in the paperwork in the partially masked resentments in any work forced in the corn in the soy in the wheat / I try to hold in my mind as I hold in my mind a white van and an ATV yellow as a 90s Sony Walkman the chocolate milk stain birthmark on your right inner thigh right next to your pussy like a witness glossy ivy climbing the trees having snared a single gray shopping bag tattered spirit bird again in the exhaust vent making its nest my fingers in you and your face while I do that mythic and ancient face of centuries comedy tragedy microplastics buried imperceptibly in the face I can’t completely / hold the face I love

With Measure

the sweat x the slabs x the proportions the sun's calculable angle x hours chiseled the subtraction of color x bootlicking oaths honey x the accent's placement x mourning clothes tired comparisons x the carrying it forward x centuries balancing it on her heads x the grief-sellers x the followers x the rapist minor gods x buttery calfskin ripped from its cry x aging protégés x soft but not quite pretty enough boys x democracy launderers x shit-shovelers x deathless kings the lips x the pits x tender cunts of every iteration scouring rags x candle dippers x elastic scrotal skin bottomless refills x back to normal x a pinch of sour nectar clotted tongues x factory farmed embarrassed poets x scale replicas the package tour x sculpted wastewater channel x hypotenuse inclusion x inexhaustible lazy olive branch motifs the pre-recorded oracle x brutality with better PR bacterial feasts x the stream of piss running into the water stream x coercion mistaken for touch x cocksucking for docility the drape x the folds x didactic plaques x the worship of walls x an exact middle the reader x the tourist x the sell-by date detention camp x gag order x garbage strike the shattered phone x pottery shard x flaming cheese immortal x ostracized x dawn the width x the length x the weight pity x hierarchy x calculated exchange x heroic death x a greased loophole x the sucked braid

Waste

a piece of pleated gold wrapping from a poinsettia in yesterday's downpour

caught and rode the gushing current downhill

it stalled between curb and parked cars

followed by an ebullient orange bounding through the gray

free

the orange exited the narrative

we have more work to do

this morning the gold thing still hanging around next to a parked car like a big empty flower or a loud hat

lightly stirring not pinned

I remember two ladies from Saint Margaret Mary carrying wilted poinsettias to the trash on a windy day

the gold is joined by a purple ball of tissue resembling one of those horrible plastic shower poofs

our purpose is not what they told us our purpose is

Three Tongues

The first one died licking sand thinking of the sea split in three

The first a weed resembling whoever’s nearest its medicines camouflaged in mimesis

The second was a bankrupt study abroad program with a sentimental little nationalist streak A doric column squatting in a strip mall The fragrant mountain ringed in castoff first world nouns

That it was written That it is understood But how to describe the third

The taste of water...? Paradox?

The third is using my desire to save from the force of desire a turquoise burro meant for smashing I mean to hold

A word that looks at you as if it knows you and you feel warm

the room you back into while staring directly at a light source so now you twitch

without hearing the command to twitch